Literally Every Question You Have About Bedding, Answered

Your best sleep yet could be contingent on your sheets.

Courtesy of Hawkins New York

When it comes to getting your best sleep ever, there are a variety of hacks to try. Change up your TV schedule or try a sleep app. Or, go the pampering route with smart pajamas (yes, they’re a thing) and nap-inducing beauty products (which are far less sketchy than it sounds). But the one thing pretty much everyone can agree on? The importance of choosing the right sheets.

We all have our favorite bedding, but there’s so much that goes into determining exactly what kind of sheets are best for you that we thought it best to turn to an expert. Enter: Missy Tannen, cofounder and president of organic bedding company Boll & Branch, who also happens to head up product design for the brand. With plenty of experience under her belt, we figured she would be more than equipped to walk us through the different types of bedding material to figure out their pros, cons, and what kind of sleeper benefits most.

Read on to determine which sheets will get you your best sleep ever.

Courtesy of Parachute

Material: Organic Cotton

Sateen

What differentiates it from other bedding?
Sateen sheets are made with a four-over, one-under cotton weave on the loom, which creates a flexible, drapey fabric that is light, breathable, and has a soft and cozy feel.

Who benefits most from it?
Sateen is ideal for the large majority of sleepers. Most people are looking for sheets that are terrifically soft and smooth to the touch (it’s why Boll & Branch launched with these sheets).

Pros/cons?
Pros: The main pro is how absolutely soft and sumptuous this fabric is—and it only gets softer with time.
Cons: If you’re looking for a stiffer, crisp sheet, this won’t be for you.

How do you care for this material?
It’s best to wash white and natural sateen sheets in warm water, other colors in cold, and tumble dry all colors on medium. You can use a warm iron on the sheets if you’d like, but you don’t need to. Shaking linens between washing and drying cycles prevents wrinkles.

Try these:
Boll and Branch Signature Soft Sheets, $200+
Parachute Sateen Sheet Set, $109-$149
Brooklinen Luxe Core Sheet Set, $129-$159

Percale

What differentiates it from other bedding?
Percale is a one-over, one-under cotton weave that’s tighter than sateen, which results in a fabric that holds its shape and has a crisper texture. We like to say that it’s the classic white button-down shirt of bedding. The tighter weave also makes percale more durable. That’s why hotels use it!

Who benefits most from it?
Because percale sheets are known for being crisp and cool, people who sleep hot often look to percale.

Pros/cons?
Pros: It’s cool. It has a crisp look, especially when ironed. Its tighter weave and structure make it extra durable. We find that some versions of percale are crisp to the point of crunchy, which would be a con; ours, however, is comfortable.
Cons: Due to the nature of a Percale fabric, the tighter weave makes it more prone to wrinkling. Either the casual look suits you, or an iron will be needed for that crisp look.

How do you care for these sheets?
The crisp, structured look of percale is enhanced by a warm iron or steamer, though it’s not necessary. Shaking your linens between washing and drying cycles prevents wrinkles.

Try these:
Boll and Branch Percale Sheet Set, $200-$295
Authenticity 50 Signature Sheets, $139-$189
Domino by The Company Store Marble Percale Sheet Set, $35.99-$59.99

Flannel

What differentiates it from other bedding?
Flannel sheets are typically made with open-ended cotton yarn; this means the thread itself is spun in a way that allows the cotton fibers to look “hairy.” After the sheets are woven and sewn, they go through a brushing process to uniformly exaggerate the hairy fibers, creating that quintessential velvety flannel feel. This is principally how flannel differs from traditional cotton sheets, which have smooth, uniform threads.

Who benefits most from it?
Getting into a flannel bed is inviting and cozy and warm, no matter how cold it is. If someone identifies as an incredibly hot sleeper, they might not want flannel sheets.

Pros/cons?
Pros: It’s warm, soft, and cozy.
Cons: A quirk of the fabric is that it sheds a bit in the first few wash and dry cycles because of the thicker threads that make up flannel. However, the amount of lint decreases after a few washes.

How do you care for these sheets?
Flannel produces a fair amount of lint, so if you’d like, you can clean out the lint from your dryer halfway through the cycle for the first few washings.

Try these:
Boll and Branch Flannel Sheet Set, $230-$330
LL Bean Ultrasoft Comfort Flannel Set, $89-$129
Garnet Hill Paintbrush Ticking Flannel Bedding, $30-$100  

Jersey Knit

What differentiates it from other bedding?
Jersey is simply t-shirt material. It’s made of cotton, like sateen and percale, but the feel is entirely different—much stretchier. To create the stretchy feel, the cotton yarns are knit, as opposed to woven.

Who benefits most from it?
Someone who doesn’t need a perfect, crisp-looking bed, but who prizes coziness.

Pros/cons?
Pros: Who doesn’t love t-shirts? The feel is nice and cozy.
Cons: There’s a reason most sheets aren’t made of this material: It’s not made to last. Think of your favorite soft shirt. It gets thinner with time, and more prone to holes. Same thing with these sheets. It’s also prone to pilling.

How do you care for these sheets?
Wash on delicate with cold water, and tumble dry on medium.

Try these:
Zara Home Cotton Jersey Bedding, $12.90-$99
Garnet Hill Classic Stripe Jersey-Knit Bedding, $45-$118

Courtesy of Hawkins New York

Material: Linen

What differentiates it from other bedding?
Linen is made from flax instead of cotton, so it has an entirely different hand feel than traditional sheets. It has an incredibly relaxed, unstructured look, too.

Who benefits most from it?
Similar to percale, linen stays cool, so people who sleep hot tend to like it.

Pros/cons?
Pros: One pro is that linen gets softer and more wrinkle-resistant with each wash. For those who like a modern, relaxed look in their bedroom, linen is great.
Cons: If you’re someone who likes a crisp bed, linen is not for you.

How do you care for these sheets?
Shaking linen between washing and drying cycles prevents wrinkles—use a warm iron [to smooth it out] if you like. Wash white and natural linen sheets in warm water, wash other colors in cold, and tumble-dry all colors on medium.

Try these:
Brooklinen Linen Hardcore Sheet Bundle, $399
West Elm Belgian Flax Linen Duvet Cover + Shams, $43-$199
Hawkins New York Simple Linen Bedding, $78-$328

Courtesy of Lily Silk

Material: Satin/Silk

What differentiates it from other bedding?
Silk definitely has its own look and feel—shiny and slick to the point of slippery. Because it’s difficult to source good-quality silk—which is made from the fibers given off by silkworms—and because it has a small fan base, it’s difficult to find true silk sheets. Sheets made of satin, or synthetic silk made of polyester, are inexpensive and more readily available.

Who benefits most from it?
It has such a specific look and feel that diehard silk sheet fans seek out the material. I’ve heard the claim that silk pillowcases prevent wrinkles, but I can’t say I buy that.

Pros/cons?
Pros: Satin is one of the least expensive [materials].
Cons: Silk fabric is very expensive. Both fabrics have a slick feel, which many people do not find inviting. It also does not work with many people’s decor, and is a little fussy to care for. As for satin, I don’t advise bringing synthetic materials into your bed.

How do you care for these sheets?
Wash silk sheets by hand the first few times. Then machine wash on delicate using cold water and a detergent specifically formulated for silk.

Try these:
Lily Silk 19 Momme Seamless Silk Sheet Set, $374-$504
West Elm Silk Trim Sheet Set, $14.99-$59.99
OOSilk Mulberry Charmeuse Silk Bed Sheet Set, $409-$443

See more bedding stories:
The 9 Best Sheets for a Better Night’s Sleep
Why You Should Switch to Custom Color Bedding
The Absolute Best Bedding, According to Domino Editors

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Published on April 20, 2018 - 2:05pm EDT

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